User:Robertinventor/editing wikipedia

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Background - why start new wikis[edit | hide | hide all]

Wikipedia has lots of great content contributed by people who knew their subject well. However as it matured, many left Wikipedia and large areas of the encyclopedia have stagnated. That's especially true of astrobiology. Many of the articles have had few substantial edits for years. Some of the remaining editors do bold but careless edits.

I think of it as being like thousands of encyclopedias smashed into one. Some are still excellent and actively maintained by people who know their stuff. Astronomy is like that for the most part for instance. But others are middling to good, some mediocre, and a few pages in Wikipedia are just awful, such as the pages on the habitability of present day Mars that seem stuck in a timewarp from ten years ago when astrobiologists for the most part thought the surface of Mars was completely sterile.

It can be a similar situation sometimes for even the most minor fixes and contributions. And sadly, this doesn't seem likely to change any time soon. Indeed, in my case, I have been indefinitely blocked from editing Wikipedia at all. For how that happened, and more about the background see my Alice In Wonderland Sanctioning In Wikipedia - Blocked For Covering NASA's Science Goal To Search For Habitats For Life On Mars‽. This can make editing Wikipedia a frustrating experience, and in my case, now impossible. So, I've copied the material over into my new wikis, where we can work on updating the material and add new articles, without this issue that your material may be deleted at any time by people who are unfamiliar with the topic.

Comparison with Wikipedia editors[edit | hide]

Large areas of Wikipedia seem to have no active editors that know much about the topic. A few that claim to knowledge but don't really. Lots of gnomes fixing typos and grammatical errors and such like. Nothing much else. You post a comment on a talk page and nobody responds even though the page was clearly originally contributed by someone who knew a lot about the topic. Or someone responds who knows hardly anything about the topic.

Rarely, you meet someone who is expert on the topic. Apart from the most high profile articles, that is. I found that in nearly all the topic areas I was involved in editing, Buddhism, astrobiology, planetary protection, microtonal music, exaggerated and fake doomsdays (like 'Nibiru' and climate change scares) - apart from the most high profile articles, it's rare to come across anyone who is really knowledgeable about the topic of an article you want to edit, and if you do, chances are they don't do much editing any more. They are still very actively edited, but mainly by wikignomes and occasional bold confident editors who sometimes improve them but sometimes introduce mistakes. The wikipedia "Be bold" approach for newbies works so long as you have other knowledgeable editors to do more work after a bold edit with mistakes in it.

It's the same over much of Wikipedia nowadays - the number of editors are going down, not up, even while the number of articles they have to cover goes up all the time, so there are fewer editors per article.

I just did a calculation, the number of articles per active editor, treating an editor as active if they do more than about 3 edits per day (100 per month) has increased from 374 articles per editor in 2007 to 1681 articles per editor today. That's for the top 30,000 editors there. Techy details at end.

There are a few thousand editors who do dozens of edits a day - but though some of them are careful, others are careless and error prone or have an agenda or a strange point of view that is the main reason they are so active, who are actually making it worse and introducing new errors. And actually, the group of editors who do most actual edits of Wikipedia are the ones with one edit a month. They do fewer edits per editor but there are so many more of them they do more edits in aggregate than any of the other groups.

So - I'm inclined to work in that way, copy the material into another wiki and fix it there. Encourage others to do the same. Maybe some day some of that material will get merged back into Wikipedia if the editing environment there somehow improves. The main issue of course is finding ways for others to find your work. But - well Dorje108 and our Encyclopedia of Buddhism is gradually getting visitors. Only a few per day for the entire encylopedia but increasing. It's a slow process but if it is good, then it will eventually get more visitors. And you feel you've made something worthwhile for the people who do find it already.

His articles as Wikipedia articles were at the top of the search results for the topic. So why not in a separate encyclopedia?

Sometimes it's an agenda or political view. But often, e.g. in microtonal music, it's just that many musicians have some interest in microtonal music but don't know much about it, and are doing their best.

I set up a proposal for a microtonal music project in Wikipedia that got 12 editors interested in working on it. I don't know how many microtonal articles there are there. Probably a few hundred of the most important ones. With 12 editors we could hugely improve on Wikipedia in an off-wiki copy working together, editors who know each other. Start it with guidelines that learn from Wikipedia's mistakes to prevent the same thing happening there as in Wikipedia e.g. more like Scholarpedia especially if it's mainly people with off wiki identities disclosed who you know are expert on microtonal music and can go to ask them for help with some question by a newbie of whether an article is accurate.

Techy calc details[edit | hide]

  • Article count increased from 1.5 million in 2007 to 5.7 million today: (1,560,000 to 5,710,186 ) [1]
  • Daily visitors increasing slightly from 60 million per day in 2007 to 65 million today [2]

That's a decrease of an average of 38 daily visits per article in 2007 to 11 per article today.

  • Editors active enough to do 5 edits a month decreased from 46,000 in 2007 to 30,000 today. (45953 to 28953). [3]

So for articles per editor

  • number of articles per active editor increased from 34 in 2007 to 197 today. A

That's for editors that do around only one edit a week.

There are a fair number of editors doing many edits a day. But it's a case of one editor spreading their edits over numerous articles or focusing on only the central ones in their topic area.

  • Editors with over 100 edits per month (a bit over three a day) has decreased from 4200 in 2007 to 3400 today (4173 to 3395).

So that's

  • Increase from 374 articles per editor in 2007 to 1681 articles per editor today for this 100 per month 3 per day level

At a higher level,

  • 1640 do over 250 a month, or around 8 a day. Decreased from 2107 at peak in 2007. Articles per editor increased from 740[4] to 3483[5]
  • 277 editors who do over 1000 edits a month, or about 30 a day, this number has stayed more or less steady for the last decade. Increase from 5631 to 20,614 per editor to day. [6]

If you get blocked or banned you are likely to have tangled with an editor in the top 5000 most active in wikiedia.

There are a few editors in those table that do loads of edits, using semi-automated tools, and then there are editors that do thousands of edits a month who patrol an entire topic area - or else - who focus on a few key articles in their topic area. There are also editors who are just good editors and add lots of great content and are very active improving Wikipedia.

But amongst those a few percent at least are probably active with some major agenda or point of view that is the main reason they are so active. Others are just bold and careless and introduce as many errors as they fix.

And apart from that most of Wikipedia is inactive with lots of the articles not being updated by anyone much. But not because it is error free.

My main role there was fixing errors, mainly minor ones. I'd find one or two a week just in ordinary browsing of Wikipedia because I know to check for errors and don't just accept something because "Wikipedia says so". Nowadays I still find the errors but can't fix them. I've started a text file of errors that I find and the minor ones I can fix if ever I do get unblocked.

So I'd be fixing maybe 100 minor but significant errors a year, and an occasional major fix every year or so, perhaps once or twice a year. But all the time there are many other editors there who are introducing as many errors as that or more per year editing stable well written articles and introducing mistakes into them.

Table of all edits[edit | hide]

The articles per editor here is just calculated as 5,710,186 / number of editors in that category. These are for all the edits for all time, not just the last month. Each row is for all the edits from then on:The articles per editor here is just calculated as 5,710,186 / number of editors in that category. These are for all the edits for all time, not just the last month. Each row is for all the edits from then on, diffs from next row in brackets:

Edits >= Wikipedians Edits Total Articles per editor
1 7,055,246 (4,433,174) 100.0% 349,823,496 (7,009,383) 100.0% 0.8 (1.3)
3 2,622,072(1394442) 37.2% 342,814,113 98.0% 2.2 (4.1)
10 1,227,630 (756094) 17.4% 334,864,547 95.7% 4.7 (7.6)
32 471,536 (285729) 6.7% 322,170,158 92.1% 12.1 (20)
100 185,807 2.6% 306,753,420 87.7% 30.7
316 78,084 1.1% 288,341,618 82.4% 73
1000 34,706 0.5% 264,429,042 75.6% 164.5
3162 14,648 0.2% 229,262,508 65.5% 389.8
10000 5,219 0.1% 177,052,625 50.6% 1094
31623 1,399 0.0% 112,257,138 32.1% 4081.6
100000 245 0.0% 51,682,555 14.8% 23306.9
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